The question came up. It does, now and again. Not so
much anymore. It goes as follows: If I grew up in Connecticut, how did I
come to end up in Wilkes-Barre?
I've always thought of it as
being the end. The end of one life and the onset of yet another. The end
in CT came about when I told my stepfather that I did not want to be
legally adopted by him. He reacted very angrily, and in a fortnight,
went totally berserk on those of us that shared 25 George Ave, Derby,
CT, with him. Both my sister and I learned what it meant to be 'knocked out cold." I was 12. She was younger.
Anyway, the end.
First, there was a police car. Then, another. And then, yet another. My
mother endured that beating until he was finally taken away to the
local VA hospital. And then the phone rang. And when mom dispensed with
the phone, she was hysterical. She told me he promised to kill us when
he was released from the VA. She was sobbing and vibrating and praying
out loud. Knowing Leo, I was scared out of my wits.
She and I
piled the parlor furniture against the front door. And then we spun the
refrigerator against the back door. Down below in the basement, I backed
the Datsun up against the garage door, hoping that the bumper would
prevent the garage door from being raised. We threw mattresses and
dressers in front of bedroom windows. Defenses in place, we cuddled in
the kitchen, eating Scooter Pies, while mom prayed on and on.
After mom spoke to some police honcho on the phone,
she was relieved to learn that the VA would hold violent types for a
set amount of time. I can't recall now, for 48 or 72 hours. Some such
Since the school year had just begun the day before, or
the day before that, she decided that both Suzie and I would head off to
school from within our defensive perimeter. But by the time we had
walked home from our bus stop---The Grassy Hill Lodge--she was
borderline hysterical all over again.
According to her, she had been alerted that Leo's release from the VA was imminent.
So, we unpiled, repiled and then re-repiled our upholstered defenses,
turned off every light in the house and waited on the coming storm. I
had seen her hysterical many times before. I had seen her attempt a
homicide a few times. And I had seen her treated like a walking, talking
punching bag one too many times. But this time, she was completely
unnerved. She was shaking and babbling and being very short-tempered.
The end of The End.
Sometime, mid-evening, a taxi pulled up
and out stomped the raging bull. A glance was all I caught, but all I
needed. He pushed the front door in, but the furniture piled in that
entrance vestibule would not budge. The longer that stalemate went on,
the more enraged he became. Mom was on the phone with the Derby PD when he made his way around back, tossed all of the lawn furniture into the pool and then had at the kitchen door. That huge fridge he got at Glazer's was not going to retreat, so he punched out the window but a few feet away.
Mom was crying hysterically, as was Suzie, while my then 9-month old
brother wailed and wailed away. Leo made his way back out front and
yanked the garage door clear out of it's frame. With that, my mom handed
Ray to me and told me to grab Suzie, get into our bedroom and to lock
the door behind me and to remain in there no matter what.
the sound of the garage door being compromised, I could hear him
pounding his way up the steps to the hallway door just a few feet from my
bedroom door. It then shattered into a splintered mess.
my room only to get punched center mass, right in the sternum. Suzie
got much worse and suffered with bloody noses for years afterwards. Mom
got the worst of it, as they fought from one wall to the other in the
master bedroom. When the police arrived in force, I pulled down some of
the furniture blocking the main entrance.
Surprisingly, since he
was now in the hoosegow, she sent us off to school the next morning,
even though we were both seriously off of our games. Some hours later, I
was pulled from Mr. Supp's class only to learn that we were moving to
Wilkes-Barre. I told Joanne, my love interest, that I would see her
later. In fact, I would never see her again.
Back at the fort, we
filled the Datsun wtih our clothes and prepared to make our way to
Wilkes-Barre. No toys. No hobby stuff. No bicycles. Just clothes as we
abandoned the only home my mother ever owned in favor of being dependant
on the state, but not regularly beaten.
And they wonder why I have a huge chip on my shoulder and a hair trigger.